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Showing posts from October, 2015

The widow who gave all that she had

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Mark 12.41-44
This is the fourth picture that can be found on the walls of the church of St Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. It is a portrayal of the incident recorded in Mark 12.41-44. So there is the chest, the widow, Jesus and a disciple.
I came across a new interpretation of this passage. In the previous verses we have been warned about the teachers of the law: ‘They like to devour widow’s houses’ (v40).  And now we read of a widow who has to put everything that she has into the temple collection box. Jesus' is challenging a religious system which exploits the poor.
While I think that we need to hear that challenge, I am not convinced that this is what is going on here. The widow’s giving appears to be completely voluntary. And Jesus points to her as an example of giving.
My own view is that Jesus is teaching us here what it means to follow him, about discipleship.
The contrast here is not between the teachers of the law and the widow. It is not even between those who give for show and …

Praise or Pride: a talk for harvest

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Deuteronomy 8.10-20
We are here today to give thanks for the harvest.
God has given us the most astonishingly generous gift. Yesterday we went for a circular walk around Clare. We are so privileged. The Suffolk countryside is beautiful and fertile. And I know that some people – even people here – are seriously struggling, but as a rule we have so much. Few of us, if any here, will have known starvation. The only times in my life that I have gone hungry are by choice. And most of us really do have genuine choices about what we do with some of our money. Yes, the rent or the mortgage, the electricity and the food bills need paying, but most of us have at least a little at the end of the week or month to buy something that is not essential. And we have a pretty good system of public services, of education and the NHS. We know who we can turn to when we are sick. And although the recession and austerity has badly affected large numbers of people, overall and looking at the big picture, we h…